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Blacks Have Higher Rates of Sepsis Than Whites, Hispanics

However, after adjustment for poverty, Hispanics show lower incidence than whites, study shows

FRIDAY, Feb. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Blacks have nearly twice the rate of severe sepsis than whites, but Hispanic ethnicity is associated with a lower incidence of the condition, possibly due to different genetic susceptibility between races, according to research published in the Feb. 1 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Amber E. Barnato, M.D., of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and colleagues analyzed discharge data from 68 hospital referral regions in six states, an area containing 71 million people. Out of nearly 9 million hospitalizations of people living in the study areas in 2001, there were 282,292 cases of severe sepsis.

Blacks had the highest age- and sex-standardized incidence compared to Hispanics and whites (6.08 per 1,000 in blacks versus 4.06 per 1,000 Hispanics and 3.58 per 1,000 whites). After adjustment for poverty in their region of residence, blacks maintained their higher population-based incidence than whites (1.44 rate ratio), but Hispanics had lower incidence (0.91 rate ratio). The authors suggest that the racial variations could be related to unmeasured confounders such as tobacco use, pharmaceutical use and treatment differences in hospitals.

"It is also possible that the greater adjusted incidence among blacks and the lower incidence among Hispanics could be due to differences in the underlying biologic response to infection and injury. Severe sepsis is often characterized as a syndrome of overly exuberant inflammation, and other inflammatory diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosis, have also been reported to be more common and more severe in blacks," the authors write.

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